Ten things that are different in the UK for international nurses

Relocating to the United Kingdom will require an adjustment. Here are ten unique quirks to get used to.

  • Dry Wit and friendly Sarcasm

The Brits are renowned for their dry, ironic humour and sarcasm. Self-deprecating jokes and not taking oneself too seriously are ingrained in the culture. Mock insults between friends symbolise affection. Don’t be offended by the sharp, observation-based wit. Cheeky banter greases the wheels of British social interaction. Laugh along and learn to give it back in return.

  • Unpredictable Weather

The UK is synonymous with talking about the weather, - with good reason. The conditions can shift several times in one day, flipping between bright sunshine, windy downpours, and gloomy grey skies. You’ll soon find yourself checking forecasts obsessively and making remarks about the weather too.

  • Different Bank Holidays

Public holidays in the UK fall on dates that differ from those in other countries. Currently, there are eight: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, May Day, the late May bank holiday, the summer bank holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Familiarise yourself with the calendar dates each year, as holidays impact things like shop hours and public transport schedules.

  • Generous Paid Leave

British employees receive a minimum of 4-5 weeks of paid annual leave under law. Most companies offer more, around 25 days, plus bank holidays. Workers tend to use this time off for longer holidays and visits abroad rather than brief breaks. Many organisations (not the NHS) fully shut down during the late December holidays.

  • Diverse Regional Accents

Despite the posh stereotype, you’ll encounter a mosaic of accents across the UK's regions. From the lilting Welsh tones to the guttural blur of Glaswegian, it takes ear training to grasp some dialects. Geordie, Brummie, Scouse, Cockney, West Country - familiarise yourself with the lingo. Ask locals to slow down and repeat unfamiliar phrases.

  • Picturesque Landscapes

Beyond London’s urban sprawl, quintessential rural charm abounds. Explore the misty Scottish Highlands, rugged Cornish coasts, scenic Lake District, and rolling Cotswold hills. Quaint villages with cottages, churches, and cosy pubs are common. Historic cities like Edinburgh, Bath, and York blend into the natural beauty seamlessly.

British City
  • Tea Obsession is Real

Tea is the undisputed national beverage, consumed in astounding quantities daily. Locals guzzle mugs of builder’s tea continually. Variations like Earl Grey or herbal infusions are popular too. Teatime is a ritual. Master making a proper cuppa with a kettle, tea bags, milk, and biscuits. Coffee culture is also growing, but tea remains supreme.

  • Comprehensive Transport

Public transport makes navigating even remote parts of the UK straightforward. Cities have extensive bus and metro networks, like the London Underground. National rail services connect towns efficiently. Rideshare apps and iconic black cabs provide alternatives. Walking and cycling are common for shorter journeys.

  • Easy European Travel

One benefit of living in Britain is the proximity and transport links to Europe. Quick flights reach major cities on the continent like Paris, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. The Eurostar zips to Paris in 2.5 hours. Travel is a popular weekend activity. Brexit introduced more border friction, but exploring Europe remains convenient.

  1. Lack of Air Conditioning

Coming from hotter climates, you may find the absence of air conditioning in most British homes and buildings noticeable. The temperate climate historically made AC unnecessary. Fans suffice for most. But with rising temperatures, AC is becoming more prevalent. Just expect living spaces to be on the warm side in summer.

Embracing these unique British eccentricities will help you settle in faster and feel at home.